Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Float On

I tried to get the moose to tell me the secret recipe for making my favorite ice cream flavor - but he wouldn't say boo!


Yesterday we spent the day touring. The day started with a big boy breakfast at the inn. It was eggs, bacon, scones. The innkeeper said she figured we needed the extra protein. Even if I didn’t I was all over the bacon. Couple of cups of coffee and then we were on our way.



We drove north on the Franconia Parkway. It was scenic road filled with trailheads, basins, gorges and other beauties of nature. Our first stop was at the Flume. I was a little miffed that you had to pay money to walk to the flume. Further miffed when I realized part of it was uphill. Worsened by the fact that I would eventually have to go downhill. Which then resulted in full on bonk. Completely shutdown on the 60 minute hike – ready to sit down by a giant rock and be left for dead.


The flume itself was beautiful. I’m still not sure what it was but I think it is geological for fast-moving water from tall place. The view kept getting better and better. Finally we were faced with the flume, could feel the water being thrown from the rocks and then hiked down the other side to the pool. Bonk aside it was worth the 12 dollars a person to see it up close.

After that I was in a state of major food emergency. Post race day leaves me feeling a few ways – thirsty, nauseous and hungry. All day hungry nonstop food affair. We drove up to Littleton, a small rustic town along a river. After lunch, I wanted to visit a store that advertised it had the world’s largest candy counter. Count me in! Turns out it did – lots and lots of candy. But I was more interested in the fudge. Can’t remember the last time I had it but they had flavors that made me want it. Get this – Moose Tracks fudge and Peanut Butter Explosion fudge. I am so lucky I am not a tourist more often. I’d be as big as a house.


Next we decided to walk along the riverfront. Found a covered bridge and ate our fudge. About one half pound of fudge later (and worth every ounce of it), Chris wanted to climb into the rocks in the river and sit down. We found a flat rock and he convinced me to put my feet in the water. It was cold! We used our most scientific way to determine how cold – Do you think this would be a wetsuit swim? Could you put your face in it?

It would be a wetsuit swim.



Then we just sat quietly. I watched the water ripple over the rocks and the wind catch the leaves. A birch leaf dropped into the river and slowly swam towards me. It took a windy path as it floated up and over the riffles, swirled in the eddy for a few moments before finally gathering the momentum to make it up and over the next set of rocks again. The pattern would repeat itself – it would spin for a few minutes trapped under the pressure of the water pouring over the rocks, release itself and move forward.

Watching this, I realized I wanted to be the leaf. The leaf would struggle in place for a few moments but it kept moving in a forward path. Eventually it would become free again and seemed at peace with is float and moved forward to some place further than where it was before.

Sitting along this river I thought about my year so far. We put so much into our “seasons” and want to move forward in a progression that is meaningful to us. Whether it is based on our results, times, or lessons learned – we need to keep moving forward. In the past 3 races I have produced the same result. Sure there have been little victories but I have completed a half in 4:55. Think about that – I have not completed a half in 4:55 since 2001. Somehow in the past year I have gained over 20 minutes on my best half time and taken over 6 years worth of steps backwards. Here I am after reaching a point to where I was able to take it up a level this year – and instead of moving forward I have gone backwards. To go backwards is not a path I enjoy. Of course I will accept struggles and spinning in place at times but in general I want to move forward. I am not foolish enough to expect to breakthrough every time and I understand it’s a different game but that doesn’t lessen the fact that underperforming hurts like injury. You start to wonder if the injury is really just with yourself.


Which got me to thinking – what is going on? And where do I want to go? What am I doing – and why? I didn’t have an answer. So all I could do was ask myself what I enjoyed about the sport…

I really enjoy coaching. Sometimes more than training and racing myself! I enjoy guiding people to reach their goals. I like to see them learn something about themselves or achieve something they didn’t think they could before. I have always been a teacher and being able to teach something that I love and have experienced is better than some of my best race memories.

I really enjoy all of my tri friends. I enjoy traveling around the country and seeing familiar faces. I enjoy meeting up with people like Kristin and feeling like we never missed a step – even though we haven’t seen each other in nearly a year. I like the connection this sport builds between people of like minds and passions.

I really enjoy being outside. This weekend we did a lot of hiking. I miss hiking and walking. I miss running on trails and mountain biking. I spend so much time on streets, tracks and in pools that I am getting away from what attracted me to the sport – feeling alive by being outdoors.

I really like fudge. And coffee. By the way, I bought so many bags of coffee beans in New Hampshire that it put my suitcase over the 50 pound limit for the plane.

I really enjoy being with my husband. I miss training with him after work and I know it’s bad to save workouts until the end of the day – but I just like being with him. I realized this weekend that I will always be young with him. And as I spent more time apart from him I am starting to feel old.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I thought more about things while taking my feet in and out of the wetsuit legal cold water (pro rules, sub 72 degrees) and realized I don’t want to travel to another race for awhile. I want to run more. The fall is coming and the fall is for running – 10K’s, cross country. I will do those things. I want to do cyclocross. I will fall down and get lapped but I want to do it. I will also ride my mountain bike at Kettle Moraine. I will hold my breath making the tight descents and curse the rocks but after one Blue Loop I will be so sweaty and wired that I can’t wait to do it again. I will stop swimming 5 times a week. It is becoming not fun and my new motto in life is taken straight from a Ben & Jerry’s carton if it’s not fun why do it. I will eat more Ben & Jerry’s and swim less.

After the race on Sunday, Cynthia Wilson asked me how it went. I had the pleasure of meeting her in St. Croix - she's quite talented and finished 3rd overall at Timberman. Anyways, I told her it was hard at times but I'm learning a lot and never expected it to be easy. And she said to me keep at it. And I will. I want to and I will but sometimes I get frustrated with the journey.

At this point I am sure reading this blog at times is like watching a wreck. You can see it coming and when it happens you can't help but look. Trust me, I get that and I do hope you enjoy the elf show. But I want to be honest about everything I think and feel along the way. Some days I can see the positive in everything. Other days I am just human like everyone else. You just caught me on a human day. Here I am! And this is my honest journey. Thanks for traveling with me...

17 comments:

BreeWee said...

Elf, I am in San Fran airport about to board, wanted you to know whatever you do you have a lot of people admiring you and encouraged by you...Enjoy your week, have fun with Chris, enjoy running & coffee!

All the best!!

Anonymous said...

DID YOU JUST SAY CYCLOCROSS? Music to my ears! Oh yes!!! There is a huge schedule this year - let's go to Nats together! Now, THAT would be fun! Jen H. :)

Flatman said...

I want to be a leaf too.

BTW, you are ripped in that moose pic! :)

kerrie said...

i second what flatman says - your arms look great!
reading your blog is NOT like watching a wreck(if you want that, check mine out, lol), it is about complete honesty and you're taking us along for the ride...i love that you are able to be positive even when things aren't going your way and learn something in the process. i need to work on that!

Ron said...

I enjoy following your journey because for every 100 people that could win races as an age-grouper, 99 would be content to remain the big fish in the small pond. In contrast, you're the 1 in 100 that has chosen to be the small fish in the big pond. You deserve major props for that. I also admire your mental toughness. The joy is in the journey. Here's hoping your fall is filled with joy.

Pedergraham said...

I agree...it does not feel like watching a wreck. It is a joy to follow along with the Fedofsky-Waterstraat adventures (especially funny when he is wearing your shorts to race!). Glad you enjoyed the outdoors in my birth state. We are headed over to Franconia next week!
-Danielle

Stef said...

Doesn't read like a wreck at all. Very gutsy, very honest. Very real. You are living the life you want!

Sure, sometimes you feel things aren't going your way but that happens to everyone. I have a feeling you ARE moving forward, even though it may FEEL like you are moving backward. GREAT photos again. You look fabulous!

rr said...

Please be sure to tell Coach I had nothing to do with the I will not swim 5x a week uprising. Though I am totally in.

I like Al Bundy's motto: If it feels good, do it.

Muppetdog said...

Yet another thoughtful post! You have no idea how much what you think is a wreck is inspirational to read and helpful to those just fumbling our way into the sport .

Rob Chance said...

Liz,
Your discription of the leaf was poignant and well written. I loved it.
I have had a similar "backward" season like you, but this has been balanced by positive experiences coaching athletes to peak performances.
Take some time off and enjoy your vacation. You need to recharge the batteries. Running sounds like a good thing for you now.

Kathy said...

We love following your journey and it is GREAT to know that you are human too!!!

Your honesty is appreciated; your humor infectious; your training amazing; and your self belief is to be admired.

Jessi said...

Awesome post! I relate to it on a lot of levels. And I am glad you are still enjoying coaching! :)

But most importantly: your arms look super studly. Veins, even!

Meredith said...

Not a train wreck, not at all....a great read....And I think you got me at "feeling alive in the outdoors.." I agree. Fall is the time for crunching your shoes on the trail.....Crunch, crunch....I love that sound it makes....

And cyclocross, hell ya! Get back to it....If for no other reason, because you LIKE it......

Alicia Parr said...

I get what you're feeling. Don't lose the parts of the sport you love the most chasing after the parts that actually matter the least. Someday you'll look back on this year as one of tremendous emotional growth and be very proud of what you've accomplished.

Leah said...

Definitely not like watching a wreck! Your blog is a balance of hilarity, inspiration, bravery, and raw emotion. That's why I keep reading anyway. Thanks for sharing, as always.

Erin said...

As always, thank you for this. And as others said, this isn't a wreck at all...rather, I think, it's just life. It's okay to step back once in a while -- or to completely step aside -- and regroup. So here's to fall running and coffee and no 5-times-a-week swims! Enjoy this time.

IronMatron said...

What I love most about reading your blog is your keen insight into yourself and others--and into motivation and fear etc. Reading your blog recently hasn't been like watching a wreck at all. It's like reading a really good book by a person who knows how to write and also knows how to live, and ponder and struggle. Your blog is my favorite blog to read.

Congrats at Timberman. I saw you and thought, That's her! That's Elizabeth! You are one of the only people I know that had a good run there, so definitley congrats on that!